Sleep disorders are very common among seniors with dementia, and a number of studies have revealed that chronic sleep deprivation can speed up cognitive decline. Enhancing the quality and quantity of sleep your aging loved one gets can boost his or her physical health and minimize some of the worst symptoms of dementia, and it can also stabilize your life and make your everyday interactions with your loved one much more enjoyable.
1. Rule Out Other Health Issues
Before you come up with a plan, you must first make sure your loved one isn’t living with any other health issues that could be impacting sleep. If you’ve recently noticed your loved one can’t sleep at night or is experiencing daytime sleepiness, contact his or her medical team for further testing. Secondary health conditions such as urinary tract infections and lung infections can make it difficult to sleep through the night, and those issues need to be addressed right away.
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2. Create a More Comfortable Sleep Environment
Even relatively minor stimuli could be keeping your loved one awake at night, and you should make sure the bedroom is as relaxing as possible. As a general rule, a senior with dementia needs a sleeping area that’s somewhat dark and extremely quiet. Those who live in noisy areas might want to try a white noise machine or some type of soundproof headphones. For your own peace of mind, you should consider installing window sensors and motion detectors in your loved one’s bedroom.
3. Provide Plenty of Activity during the Day
When an older adult remains sedentary throughout the day, it may be difficult to get to sleep at night. Your loved one doesn’t necessarily need to go for long walks or exercise for hours every day, but you must try to keep him or her active. Doing household chores, cooking simple meals, tending a garden, and interacting with pets are all great options for those who have dementia. You can also have your loved one run errands with you so he or she has a chance to get out of the house.
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4. Avoid Stimulants Later in the Day
Caffeine can stay in your loved one’s system for many hours, and the stimulant could affect his or her quality of sleep. Drinking a little bit of coffee or tea during the day is usually fine for most seniors with dementia, but they need to avoid all stimulants later on in the afternoon. Instead of offering a cup of coffee or green tea at night, serve herbal tea that’s naturally caffeine free. Once the sun starts to set, seniors with dementia must also avoid sugary foods like candy, soda, and baked treats.
5. Stick to a Strict Nighttime Routine
Creating a bedtime routine is going to take some work, but the results are almost always worth it. After you’ve established a routine, your loved one should naturally become tired at the same time every night. The routine can include relaxing activities such as bathing, listening to quiet music, or watching an episode of a favorite television show. These activities should be done at the same time every night, and you need to make sure your loved one wakes up at the same time every morning as well.
When you understand the causes of your loved one’s sleep difficulties and use the strategies outlined above, you can help him or her sleep better and enhance his or her overall wellbeing. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Oklahoma City, OK, Lifestar Home Care is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (405) 288-9275 today.